Banana Boast Productions U.S. Premiere Of THE KEY GAME By Patricia Cumper
Banana Boat Productions and New Perspectives Theatre Company (NPTC) are pleased to present The Key Game by noted London-based Jamaican playwright Patricia Cumper. The production runs October 17 - 28, 2018 at New Perspectives Studio, 458 West 37th Street with performances Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30pm and Sundays at 3:00pm.
An open door is not always a good thing...
The Key Game takes place in the mid 1990's, and is set in a rundown psychiatric hospital in Jamaica that the government is demolishing to make way for some profitable real estate developments. The three remaining inmates (Dappo, Gonzales, Shakespeare) are in a state of panic about their imminent release, terrified about how they will function in the outside world. The one remaining nurse, Norman, provides the only source of support to these men even as he grapples with his own future. The characters ultimately must confront issues of a far more existential kind in which the "governing forces", indifferent to their fates, are critical antagonists in the text. In questioning both the nature of "government care" as well as our definition of "normal", Cumper's play remains uncannily relevant.
The Key Game is directed by Banana Boat Artistic Director Merlina Rich. Meganne George is the Set Designer, Joyce Liao is Lighting Designer. The cast includes: James Foster, Jr., Jonathan Michaelson-Swain, Leajato Amara Robinson and Marc Webster.
The Key Game, commissioned and produced by Talawa Theatre Company in 2004, won four star reviews and was a Time Out Critic's Choice.
PATRICIA CUMPER is an award-winning playwright, director, arts administrator and cultural leader inspired by Caribbean synergies and modern multicultural Britain. Her dramatic ideology has always been predicated on "constant and unwavering ideals concerning the dignity of human beings". Her work champions the right of the oppressed to be protected from the predatory actions of those in authority. Cumper grew up in Jamaica and moved with her family to England where she won a scholarship to Cambridge University to study Archaeology and Anthropology. After graduating, Cumper returned to Jamaica and became a playwright; for almost 20 years she wrote and had produced over a dozen plays, many of which won awards or writing competitions. They include The Rapist, The Fallen Angel and The Devil's Concubine which has been produced throughout the Caribbean, the US and Canada. A recent production of Fallen Angel in Toronto won two industry awards. Cumper returned to Britain in 1993 where she has since written a large number of stage and radio plays, short stories and a novel, One Bright Child, published in 1998. Cumper worked for the UK's largest Black-led theatre company, Talawa, in a variety of roles beginning in 1999. She became artistic director in 2006 and stepped down in 2012 after overseeing their 25th anniversary season. In 2013 she was awarded an MBE for Services to the Arts and became a trustee of the British Museum. In January 2015, Cumper's adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel Beloved was broadcast in ten episodes by BBC Radio 4. Her 2017 play Chigger Foot Boys, which pays tribute to African and Caribbean soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War, was produced at Tara Arts to critical acclaim. Paul Vale in a four-star review for The Stage called it a "Richly textured play delivered with clarity and touchingly performed", commenting that "the perspective is wholly enlightening", and Sonia Grant wrote in the Huffington Post: "In the dexterous hands of acclaimed playwright Patricia Cumper MBE, Chigger Foot Boys accomplished what a good theatrical production should by being bold, entertaining and enlightening."
MERLINA RICH is the Founder and Artistic Director of Banana Boat Productions. As a producer, director, writer and actor, she has been involved in various productions over the past twenty years all having to do with Caribbean life and its manifestation in the larger world. Among the plays Merlina has produced are Nine to Five Government Style, The New Hardware Store, Have Mouth Will Travel, All I've Got, Pretty Papers and Mamma Decemba. In partnership with the Caribbean-American Repertory Theater, she co-produced Jestina's Calypso and My Children! My Africa! which was nominated for an Audelco Award in 2004. With New Perspectives she has produced the double headers WOMEN IN TRANSITION, TRUTHS & ACCOMMODATIONS, CROSSING BOUNDARIES and multiple incarnations of The Ritual. She is very active in outreach to, and collaboration with, a range of Caribbean cultural and social organizations to foster greater connections within the community and provide needed services and support to Caribbean peoples. Through her many years as a flight attendant with American Airlines, Merlina has worked with the United Nations and other groups to provide health care to needy children across the Caribbean and bring supplies and financial support to schools in Jamaica.
BANANA BOAT PRODUCTIONS was established in 1998 with the aim of creating theatrical experiences of specific interest to the English-speaking Caribbean community of the greater New York metropolitan area. Our operating premise is this: the Caribbean culture is a multicolored and rich palette of expressions, experiences and lifestyles that is in need of more exposure in the realm of truly meaningful theatre. Banana Boat seeks out plays that focus very specifically on dramatic themes that reflect the historical and cultural development of Caribbean life as well as the present reality of Caribbean culture as it has settled into other global settings. We attempt to bring thought provoking and realistic theatrical experiences to people who can identify, reflect upon and appreciate the relevance to their own lives. In this context, our productions can be seen as experiential instruments to promote a greater elaboration, a deeper understanding, and more respectful view of oneself-in this case, a Caribbean self.
NEW PERSPECTIVES THEATRE COMPANY is an award-winning, multi-racial company performing in the Theatre District and communities throughout NYC. Now celebrating its 27th season, notable productions have included Richard III starring Austin Pendleton; The Taming of the Shrew (OOBR Award for Excellence); Exhibit #9 by Tracy Scott Wilson (Audelco Award); Jihad, The Play by Ann Chamberlain (OOBR Award for Excellence and moving to Off-Broadway next season); Admissions by Tony Velella (10 Best Plays Citation, Backstage); the premiere of The Shaneequa Chronicles by OBIE-Winner Stephanie Berry (with Blackberry Productions); Anatomy of a Love Affair by Deirdre Hollman (Optioned by Essence Entertainment); MOTHER OF GOD! by Michele Miller (Princess Grace Foundation Finalist); the U.S. and English-language premiere of Visit by world-renowned Argentinean playwright Ricardo Monti; and the New York Premieres of Vaclav Havel's The Increased Difficulty of Concentration, OBIE-Winner Stephanie Berry's The Shaneequa Chronicles (produced with Blackberry Productions) and Lemon Meringue Façade by Ted Lange. Our aim is not to exclude, but to cast a wider net. In its 27-year history, NPTC has served more than 30,000 public school students and hundreds of teachers. We have mounted over 75 productions (40 original full-lengths, 13 original short play festivals, 4 US Premieres, 5 NY Premieres); provided 56 Women's Work residencies; presented 80 new works by African American writers and performers; and have been named by the NY Foundation for the Arts as a "Community Asset". NPTC has also consistently provided producing support to other Off-Off Broadway companies and artists with a similar mission of giving voice to the unheard and telling the missing stories from the American experience.